UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has stepped in to resolve the Congress-Samajwadi Party row by directing her party leaders not to poach on SP MLAs.
In doing so, she sought to uphold the principles of coalition dharma that is expected to lend credibility and stability to the UPA as it gears up for the Lok Sabha polls.
After their recent rapprochement, relations between the two parties had soured again, with the SP accusing the Congress of splitting its party in Madhya Pradesh, where four of its MLAs quit the ranks amid indications that they may join the Congress. Upset, the SP threatened retaliatory action in UP where the two parties are engaged in seat-sharing talks for the Lok Sabha elections in their bid to take on the BSP and BJP.
Well-placed sources said Sonia intervened to prevent Congress-SP relations from sliding further. She expressly told her state leaders not to eye SP MLAs who may now not be brought into the fold.
Earlier, former MP chief minister Digvijay Singh had refuted the SP’s charge, claiming that the MLAs had quit the SP voluntarily.
Following Sonia’s intervention, the Congress renewed its negotiations for the UP seats. On Saturday, Digvijay Singh, who is also in charge of UP, had said he would send a list to SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav of the number and name of constituencies his party would like to contest in the state.
Before the MP developments cast a shadow, the two parties had reportedly hammered out an agreement on more than half of UP’s 80 Lok Sabha seats. Though the Congress refused to give a break-up of this, it reportedly wants to contest around two dozen seats in all. The SP, however, has offered it only a dozen seats, maintaining that the Congress’s demand would only benefit the BSP. The Congress has nine MPs and had come second in half a dozen seats and third in another seven in the state. Negotiations had also hit a roadblock because of the joint claims made by both parties on some seats, including Farrukhabad and Sultanpur.
Seat-sharing talks between the two are presently confined to UP. Though the SP wanted similar negotiations in Maharashtra, MP and Karnataka, the Congress response has been lukewarm.